ATLANTA — Local and national dignitaries began pouring in accolades to celebrate the life of legendary Civil Rights leader Julian Bond, who passed away Sunday at the age of 75.
The Nashville, Tenn., native graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in English before helping to found the ultra-influential civil rights group Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was also a state Senator in Georgia from 1965 to 1985, where he operated in conspicuous isolation because the other white lawmakers refused to interact with him and viewed him as a racial rabble rouser.
Bond, the father of current Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, was also the longtime chairman of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in America.
The most august body of legislators, educators from Atlanta and the state of Georgia and around the nation commemorate the life of Julian Bond:
Southern Poverty Law Center: “With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” the center’s statement read. “He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”
John Lewis: “Julian Bond was just smart, just smart. Brilliant. He was a wonderful writer, a poet. He had a great sense of humor. He could make you laugh until you wanted to cry. But he worked very hard. Julian must be remembered as having inspired another generation of young people to stand up, to speak up and speak out. He traveled all over America, speaking on college campuses, but also to large groups for peace, for non-violence and for protecting the environment.”
Bond’s son, Michael Julian Bond, serves as an Atlanta city councilman, and the president of that body, Ceasar Mitchell, released a statement Sunday morning: “The world has lost a titan for justice, a civil rights icon and an eloquent, strong voice for the voiceless. Julian Bond was a leader in the fight for justice. He played a critical role in the civil rights movement and his legacy is a shining example of how to achieve equality, equity and fairness for all. I’m praying for my friend and colleague Councilman Michael Julian Bond and the entire Bond family.”
President Obama: “Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend. Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life — from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: “The City of Atlanta is in mourning today. We have lost one of our heroes.
Julian Bond lived a life of great impact, great courage and great distinction. He was a co-founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was one of eleven African-Americans elected to office in the Georgia House of Representatives following the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965. Bond was an impassioned advocate for non-violence throughout his career, and his voice never wavered in his life-long fight for justice.
We may take comfort in knowing his legacy lives on in his children and grandchildren, in the organizations he founded and in the barriers he broke. Julian Bond changed our state and our country, and we are forever in his debt.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Bond family, and my friend Michael Bond, who serves on the Atlanta City Council. May God bless Julian Bond and may he rest in peace.”
Fulton County chairman Dr. John Eaves: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Julian Bond, who leaves an immeasurable legacy as a public servant and champion for justice. Bond inspired me to seek a career in public service when I was a student at Morehouse College in the 1980s.
Julian Bond possessed the unique combination of qualities of courage, passion, and intellectualism. His imprint on our city, county, state and nation will be everlasting.
I know the Fulton County family joins me in praying for the Bond family during this difficult time.”
Ambassador Andrew Young, the two-time mayor of Atlanta, declined to comment at this time because he is “deeply depressed” and is decompressing from the loss.
Below are tributes that came from around the country: